Culture

Love Your Enemy | A Christian Response to the Tragedy in Charleston

Unfortunately in the world we live in you don’t have to wait very long for the next tragic event to occur. It seems with increasing regularity someone decides to commit an appalling act against people around them. The latest tragedy happened last night when Dylann Storm Roof entered a church and killed 9 in a twisted sense of patriotic justice. This has left many shocked and outraged. Many of us asking how a human could carry out such an evil deed.

Unfortunately in the world we live in you don’t have to wait very long for the next tragic event to occur. It seems with increasing regularity someone decides to commit an appalling act against people around them. The latest tragedy happened last night when Dylann Storm Roof entered a church and killed 9 in a twisted sense of patriotic justice. This has left many shocked and outraged. Many of us asking how a human could carry out such an evil deed.

Let me first say we need to be praying for the community of Charleston, the Church, and the families of the victims. What they will go through in the coming weeks and months is something few of us in America can comprehend. They need the peace and provision that only God can provide.

In the midst of all the coming chaos there’s going to be a lot of voices yelling for what they feel is justice. Before that comes let me suggest one thing. If you and me claim to follow Christ, what would He want us to do in this situation? I think a sense of rage and a cry for justice is both normal and warranted. But I wonder where God’s heart is in this? And does my heart reflect His?

I can’t help but to read the comments on news articles and peoples reactions on social media. However, I often cringe at people’s responses to tragic situations like this. Comment after comment about what kind of punishment is best and what they would like to do to that person. Often the harshest and most vicious comments are directed at someone who suggests we pray and extend love to the one who committed the crime. But is that God’s heart? What should those of us that claim to follow Christ say and do?

I read a tweet by some guys at Bad Christian that I think fits this. “Our natural reaction is to see swift earthly justice. God’s desire is justice through cross, redemption for all, even ruthless murderers.”

I think we start in the right place. These situations should upset us, and we should want and desire for justice to be dealt. It’s how we act upon these feelings that’s not out of God’s heart. When we see evil in this world we’re quick to cry for justice from this world, but often we don’t cry to God for His justice. And often when we do cry to God for justice we beg for punishment for their evil deeds. Do you see the problem in that?

It’s the kind of justice we are asking God to bring about that is wrong. We are praying that God bring about the kind of justice WE seek. Instead we should be asking God to bring about the kind of justice HE seeks. We got it backwards. God will bring justice to this evil, and to all evil, but He will do it in His way not ours.

God’s ways are so much greater than ours; He can see the bigger picture. Which is why He calls to do things that are difficult and seem like a backwards way of doing things. He can see the bigger picture that we cannot. What He says sometimes is hard, but it’s trustworthy and worth doing. Check out what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount.

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” 

What if Jesus actually meant this? When we hear this we often think of our boss that annoys us. Or the neighbor’s dog that constantly barks. But what if Jesus also wanted us to include Dylann Storm Roof, the opposing political party, people different then us, and even terrorists? What if we are supposed to pray for those people? What if we are supposed to extend Jesus’ love to even them?

That makes me a little uncomfortable, and I’m guessing it does for you too. But what would happen if the church got down on it’s knees and prayed for Dylann Storm Roof. That’s radical. That’s something no one would do. And that’s the Church that Jesus is calling us to be. Over the coming weeks pray for Dylann Storm Roof. Pray for God’s justice to be carried out instead of our own.

13 comments on “Love Your Enemy | A Christian Response to the Tragedy in Charleston

  1. Amen. C.S. Lewis’s brother Warnie reported that during the 1940s he (Lewis) prayed for Hitler and Stalin (among other despots) at bedtime every night! Grace without legs is just words.

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  2. That it is. It’s hard to do, but I think it adjusts our thinking to Jesus’ thinking.

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  3. Although earthly authorities are responsible to establish justice in the physical realm, Christ-followers are called to forgive in the spiritual realm and to love.

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    • Yes, that is true. There are earthly consequences to peoples, and our, actions. We are called to forgive but that doesn’t mean the consequences go away.

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  4. Thankx Curtis. i love your heart in this and i think there is some truth in what you’re saying, but at the same time i feel like the black community in particular [not that i can speak for them] are tired of seeing the perpetrators names lit up in newspaper headlines and social media and the victims simply remain a number [which is why i started me piece as i did and didn’t mention the shooter’s name] – God loves everyone involved absolutely but more than an isolated incident, this feels like yet another attack on black people as a whole, who have had to face a whole lot of tragedies this year alone [especially police-related] and so trying to find the balance of really recognising the loss and the pain and the suffering of those directly affected but also the bigger picture and story of what else is going on.

    It’s not an easy one and we’re all just trying our best to figure out the best move forward.
    Thank you
    love brett fish

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  5. Many of my friends on Facebook, most of whom claim to follow Christ, have called for Dylann’s death in response to this tragedy. This indeed happens everytime something like this happens. We tend to become the judge and the jury. What we fail to realize is that we all deserve death because of our sin. Great post, Curtis!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see that time and time again. We, as humans, like to be in control and condemn those we feel deserve. The ironic part is when we condemn someone else, we are also worthy of condemnation for some of our actions. God is much better at justice then we are.

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  6. It seems that most of the perpetrators of these kinds of vicious attacks are fine with paying with their own lives. They apparently do not fear earthly justice. It is too bad that we have come to the time that it is considered off limits- too judgmental – to teach and/or remind people that there is a God of Justice, just as He is a God of Love and Mercy.

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    • You are right. God is 100% Truth and 100% Grace. Often we like to pick and choice which one we want God to be, but he is both.

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  7. Hi Curtis, just wanted to let you know I’ve nominated you for the “Allergic to E Challenge.” Congrats! Rules are posted HERE: http://mitchteemley.com/2015/06/26/the-allergic-to-e-challenge/

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  8. Wonderful thought. This is absolute scripture in God’s response to our enemies. I believe a response of forgiveness was the response of the victims’ families. I think what we as Believers need to do in this End Time era is study more indepth the Word of God so as to be prepared for the times ahead. Remember, there are seasons to the times in which we live, and there is a time and season for dichotomies under the sun, depending on the dispensation we are living in. This is best foretold in the Book of Solomon. In terms of God’s Justice, when you study this word in the Hebrew, you will find that it actually is synonymous with the word Judgment! God’s Justice is to bring Judgment, but because of his Love, He gives Grace and shows Mercy for a time and season; willing that none should perish. It is by the laws of the land that Roof be tried for his crimes and receive due punishment according to the law; this has nothing to do with God’s Justice/Judgment. And whether Roof is tried in a court of law or not, God will Judge him for all of his unrepentant sins, including these murders; and God’s Justice will have nothing to do with the laws of the land. Justice is a word that indicates wrong doing/sin has occured, that is the reason why it is synonymous with the word Judgment! Whether it be by the laws of the land, or by the laws of God, Roof will receive exactly what the law demands for such a heinous and hateful racially motivated crime times 9! It is the Love of God, by the Blood of Christ spilled on Calvary that mandates Judgment for sins; because mankind was given choice with Grace and Mercy…but some still reject Christ and choose Satan!

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